My response to the Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge, Pick An Opening Line And Go.
I closed my mouth, opened the door, and left.
I got about three steps down the street before my phone buzzed.
“Let’s… Let’s rethink this.”
I looked up at the buildings above me. “You do all the thinking you want. I’m done.”
“You made a good point about the heat. My associate misspoke.”
I paused just long enough to make them sweat. “If he misspeaks again, I will not answer this phone when I walk away.”
“I understand. Shall we continue?”
“Not yet. What’s the magic word?”
I smiled at a gentleman passing me on the street. “I’m waiting.”
There was an audible sigh. “Please come back inside.”
I turned and walked into the storefront again, removing my sunglasses. The steamer trunk remained where it was, between the patch of worn carpet I’d been standing on and the bare floorboards where the two men behind this mess now stood. The shorter man was putting his phone away while the taller one glared at me. I’m sure others found that look intimidating. From my perspective, it was keeping me from wrapping this up and grabbing lunch.
The interior of the antique shop was dark. It hadn’t been open for business in years. It wasn’t boarded up, though, so nobody took notice. It was just one of those city street curiosities folks walked by every day on their way to somewhere more important or interesting.
“Where were we?” The short man wiped his brow. The pleasant weather outside combined with drawn shades and poor circulation made the interior rather toasty.
“Your friend was just apologizing for calling me – what was it? – a ‘smarmy cunt’.”
“I’m not apologizing for shit, you-!”
The short man glared at his companion. “Just do it.”
The tall one said nothing. I crossed my arms. The suitcase held in my right hand rested against my hips.
Finally, he shook his head. “If it’ll move this along, fine. Sorry.”
“That doesn’t sound sincere.”
For a second, I thought the tall one was going to suffer some sort of aneurysm. He turned a fascinating shade of red. The short one shook his head, his pudgy hands raised.
“I honestly think that’s as good as you’re going to get. We’re not going to be here all day, are we?”
I made a show of rolling my eyes. “Fine.”
“Thank you. Now, can we please see the money?”
I lowered myself into a squat, something you have to do carefully in a skirt cut this way, and laid the case on the trunk. I opened the clasp and lifted the lid. The two men looked at the contents.
“Count it,” the short one said.
“Why am I counting it?” The tall one looked down at his partner as I stood.
“Because A, you’re the one who nearly fucked this up, and B, I fucking say so!”
“Ugh.” The tall one bent towards his task. “Still not sure why Escobar put you in charge.”
“Maybe because he trusts me to not do stupid shit like insult a buyer.”
I reached towards the bookshelf next to me, and one of the few books not covered in dust. The tall one shrugged.
“I call ’em like I see ’em, you know that.”
“Yeah, well usually they’re not standing right-”
The false book fell into my hands and opened, revealing the .32 Welrod inside. I took hold of the weapon and raised it, letting the book fall, aiming at the tall one first. The only sound the gun made was the firing pin hitting the primer, and that was nearly lost in a well-timed honking fit out in the street.
A shudder went through the tall man’s entire body when my bullet hit his skull and burrowed inside. The short man, mid-sentence, caught his breath and swung his eyes from his partner to me. My left hand worked the pistol’s bolt as he reached into his jacket for his sidearm. I fired again, the bullet shattering the short man’s knee. As he dropped, I worked the bolt a third time and, pressing the muzzle of the silenced antique to his suit jacket, destroyed his shoulder. I know he wanted to scream, but I stepped over the steamer and put the gun in his mouth.
“I’m going to ask you a question, and I want an honest answer. Do you understand?”
His eyes were wide. He nodded. I removed the gun, cocking the bolt.
I shook my head and put a bullet in his kidney, again filling his mouth with gun before he could scream. He tried anyway.
“I thought you understood.” He squirmed under me, bleeding onto the dusty floorboards. “You said his name in front of me two minutes ago. Now, tell me where he is.”
“I don’t know. He has a yacht. Usually he keeps it at the marina but when there’s sales going on he takes it out to sea.”
“What it’s name?”
“Libertador. I think it’s registered in Malta or something.”
“Thank you.” I worked the pistol’s bolt one more time. “I’m going to kill you now.”
He started to beg. He pissed himself. Neither one stopped me.
I dropped the pistol into the case, closed it, and set it aside. I opened the steamer trunk, feeling relief wash over me when I saw the contents.
“Come on, sis,” I told the girl inside the trunk. “Let’s get you out of here.”
She was malnourished and probably dehydrated, but she grabbed my arm and let me pull her out. She leaned on me as I picked up the case and aimed us at the door.
“How… how did you find me?” Her voice was quiet and felt broken, like she hadn’t used it in a long time.
“I made friends with an FBI agent. Soon as we get you to a hospital, I’m calling him about the boat. Escobar will pay for what he’s done.”
My sister shook her head. “He knows people.”
I smiled. “Well, he doesn’t know me.”